Tony Ojobo

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

After a botched attempt to launch the mobile number portability (MNP) initiative last month,  the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has finally  set April 22 for the launch of the scheme in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital.

The Director, Public Affairs of the NCC, Tony Ojobo who disclosed this, said the delays in the launch of the scheme were as a result of the need to tighten all loose ends for a hitch-free operation.

The regulator recently outlined roles expected of stakeholders, particularly telecoms subscribers towards making the scheme successful.

According to the NCC, while service providers and the regulator are getting set to roll out the service, certain important roles were expected from the subscribers using the over 113 million active telephone lines in the country who may want to port their numbers.

Also, Interconnect Clearing House, the company appointed by NCC to create a unified interface billing system, is rounding off the process of bringing the various GSM networks on the MNP platform.

MNP is expected to address many of the ills in the industry, particularly that of poor Quality of Service (QoS). MNP will allow subscribers to change operators without changing numbers.

The Minister of Communication Technology,  Omobola Johnson, said there would be no going back on the implementation of MNP service in the country, arguing that it will usher-in an new era of competition in the industry.

“We are going ahead with Mobile Number Portability, because it is going to give subscribers lots of choice and freedom. MNP will bring new dimension to the competition in the industry. All network operators will have to work harder to earn the trust of subscribers, because they will now have choices.

“MNP will definitely give consumers varieties of choice but the major issue is for us to improve on our infrastructure and improve services, so that we don’t have to be moving from network to network,” she added.

The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NCC, Eugene Juwah, said MNP would likely lead to tariff decreases.

The NCC boss said that when the MNP is implemented, it will also give subscribers the options of changing service providers who offer poor services at will while retaining their mobile numbers.

"MNP will definitely give consumer varieties of choice but the major issue is for us to improve on our infrastructure and improve services so that we don’t have to be moving from network to network.

"For the successful implementation of this initiative, the commission has developed comprehensive porting guidelines and engaged Number Portability Clearing House managed by a reputable and neutral operator which would act as a centralised database and a unified billing system interface," Juwah said.

He added that it will reduce the number of mobile phones people carry around as they have the option to migrate to the best network of quality, but warned that subscriber identity module (SIMs) not registered and captured in the data base would not be able to migrate.

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